European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 357-375

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The right of withdrawal in the treaty of Lisbon: a game theoretic reflection on different decision processes in the EU

  • Susanne LechnerAffiliated withFaculty of Economic Science, University of Goettingen
  • , Renate OhrAffiliated withFaculty of Economic Science, University of Goettingen Email author 


The ways of decision-making within the EU have significantly changed in the last decades: The rule of unanimity has been more and more substituted by majority voting in order to speed up decision-making processes in a Union of 27 heterogeneous member states. A third possibility is now offered by the Lisbon Treaty including a constitutional right of withdrawal. A member state encountering a loss in its benefits caused by a decision made by majority voting may now demand compensating transfers by using the right of withdrawal. It might threaten to leave the EU if the compensation is denied. Hence, does this mean that member states now have regained a negotiation power comparable to the right to veto? Using a game theoretic approach we investigate the amount of compensating transfers to be offered under majority decisions with exit option compared to decisions requiring unanimity.


European integration EU decision-making Right of withdrawal Exit option Game theory

JEL Classifications

C 70 D 70